Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Female prison population shrinks nearly twice as fast as male


Between March 2017 and March 2022 the female prison population decreased by 39.3 percent whereas the male prison population shrank by just 22.4 percent.

A win for the ever-aggrieved feminists?

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

New Zealand today: Where facts are described as "nonsense"

 RNZ reports:

Shane Reti: Life expectancy for Māori was 30 years in the 1840s but today it is around 73.4 years.

Willie Jackson: Shane is talking nonsense.

There have been enormous health (and other) gains for Māori over the past 100 or so years. I gathered them together in one document here.

Progress is being made but constant polemic-driven politicking and redundant reforms will not hasten it.

If Andrew Little's goal is to reduce bureaucracy to improve efficiency, why develop two separate health authorities? He too is flying in the face of reality.

Ultimately, the personal decisions individuals make about their own health will have the greatest impact on their longevity.

That should be the message to Māori and every other person of every other ethnicity.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Behind the headline

An RNZ headline reads:

High rate of suicide in pregnant and post-natal women

"Suicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postnatal period, and Māori women are three times more likely to die this way, a new report has found."

That's an alarming fact and one that somewhat surprised me.

Any suicide is a terrible tragedy but perhaps even more so when it involves an unborn child.

After a moment's reflection, my analytical mind immediately wants to know, how many?

The report is from the Helen Clark Foundation and while the assertion is made and referred to several times in the paper, no statistics are provided. The claim is referenced though and takes us to this source - the maternal section of Perinatal Mortality Review report.

In the thirteen years that span 2006 to 2018 there were 30 suicides or two annually on average.

There were 809,831 maternities in the same period. Maternal suicides are in fact very rare.

But rarity doesn't make for headlines.

Furthermore, there were 27 in the period 2006 to 2016, leaving three in 2017/ 2018.

Maternal suicides are reducing.

For context 65 young people under twenty took their lives in the year to June 2020.

Update: On TV One the maternal suicide number has grown to 10 every year. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Labour actually achieves something

The data for the following chart comes from StatsNZ. 

Looks like New Zealand is becoming a safer place. Fewer crimes are being committed - of every type - that warrant imprisonment.

There has been a 39.3% decrease in sentenced prisoners since 2016 from 8,958 to 5,433 total offences.

'Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, break and enter' has seen a 44.5 percent decrease. Wow.

What a great result by the Labour government.

Mr Sharma will be delighted.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

On Māori inter-marriage and future implications

The rates of partnering between Māori and non-Māori are high and always have been. 


 “Intermarriage with non-Maori contributed to the rapid growth of the Maori population in the post-war period. As at 2003, almost one-quarter of Maori children were born to non-Maori mothers, (Statistics New Zealand 2005).” 

In 2013 fewer than half of Māori men had a Māori partner:


The corresponding figure for Māori females is 52 percent.

Furthermore, trend-wise:

“There has been a small but important decline in the proportion of partnered Māori who have a Māori partner. In 2001, 53% of partnered Māori men had a Māori partner. In 2013 this declined to 48%. For Māori women the decline was from 52% to 47%.”

These realities pose vital questions:

1/ Is there a pervasive appetite for separatism among people who have long been attracted to those outside their own race and culture?

2/ With institutions and services increasingly split along racial lines, where will individuals of mixed ethnicity fall? This is particularly pertinent in the case of Oranga Tamariki which is pursuing a policy of keeping ‘Maori’ children with ‘Maori’ relatives as a priority. When all aspects of the child’s well-being are considered, this may be the best course of action; equally, it might not.

John Tamihere famously said New Zealand’s future, “… is being decided in our bedrooms, not our boardrooms.” He also identifies as Māori more strongly than any other ethnicity, as is his right.

Since making that proclamation as Māori Affairs Minister in 2004, Tamihere has become a strong advocate for separate systems. As Māori Party president he appears more radical in his views than when a Labour MP.

Is he now in danger of forcing those of mixed ethnicity – even children – to make difficult, possibly unbearable decisions to meet the demands for tino rangitiratanga – ‘by Māori, for Māori?’

At the risk of sounding overly dramatic the phrase ‘Let no man put asunder’ might be a reminder to those who want to divide New Zealand that ultimately, individuals make their own life choices, and those choices are sacrosanct.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

"What women want from Labour, National"

I strongly object to writers who refer to groups of people and profess to speak for them. It happens all the time with Maori, and now Paula Bennett presumes on behalf of women. 

But once a politician always a politician so it's hardly surprising. 

Political parties run 'focus groups' to find out who to woo and what to say. They put their political pinkies in the wind and blow with it. And blow is a good word.

This piece is a lot of 'blow'.

'We' this, 'we' that. Heavy on stereotypical female roles. A shout out to the sisterhood? A signal about how to behave if you want to belong? 

Identity politics, to be blunt about it. 

BUT Bennett knows more about women than I do. She has lost none of her political smarts. Her cloaked advice is for National (not Labour): "You must capture our heads and our hearts." Currently common corporate parlance.

I must have been mistaken when I thought identity politics was the domain of the left.

It squeezes out the individual who doesn't identify with any group - who gets a shiver down their spine when told WHAT THEY THINK AND WANT. Exactly what Bennett has done.

This whole device (former minister speaks for her gender to her former party) leaves me cold.

Then again, my cynicism regarding politicians has never been as deep as it is right now. 

The manipulative game they play, and which voters willingly participate in, is ruinous.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

PM: "Come to New Zealand, we're kind."

 The Prime Minister is off overseas tomorrow. RNZ reports:

Ardern will be making local media appearances and leveraging off New Zealand's Covid-19 response. She noted research suggesting those abroad now see the country in a more favourable light.

"They see us as people who look after others, and that's a really important message to send," Ardern said.

"Come to New Zealand, we're kind."

Kind of what? Kind of authoritarian? Kind of conformist? Kind of pathetic?

Jacinda said there would be no vaccine mandates. Thousands breathed.

Then she said there would. Thousands lost their livelihoods.

With nothing left to lose they went to parliament to appeal to her.

Not only did she steadfastly ignore them. She sneered and then smeared them. 

But let's shove aside the mental images still raw from the end of the protest. 

And all the hardship the government response to covid wreaked on the economy.

Covid aside, under Ardern, New Zealanders have experienced so much additional stress.

She has actively made life less tolerable for:

Farmers (unworkable regulations, new taxes, SNAs and encouraged division between rural and urban interests)

Landlords (often unnecessary onerous regulations and loss of tax exemption on mortgage interest)

Employers (more sick leave, higher legislated wages, extra public holiday and family violence leave)

The customers of farmers (all of us) are no better off. Farm produce gets more unaffordable.

Tenants are paying higher rents and now the pool of rental properties appears to be shrinking.

Employees are struggling with inflation that has both international and domestic drivers (not least the hyper spending by government on a burgeoning bureaucracy.) In a high inflation environment the poorest - and their children - hurt the most. They have the least disposable dollar.

The ratio of income to house prices - and newly legislated LVR lending restrictions - means many young people believe it is impossible to buy a home here.

The next migration outflow is imminent and unavoidable.

But... back to the PM's trip. She said, "Now is the time to get out and about, to support our exporters, and so we're willing to take on board the risks."

RNZ originally headlined their article PM says "Now is the time to get out"

An editor guarding their funding source has since changed it.

But I say it to my adult children all the time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Sepuloni stonewalls serious questions

This morning SEEK, the foremost advertiser of jobs in New Zealand, advised that March listings were up 27% on March last year and 2 percent up on last month. Job ad levels are at a record number.

Applications per job had, however, fallen significantly.

Last week in parliament ACT MP Karen Chhour put the following questions to the Minister for Social Development and Employment, Carmel Sepuloni:

8. KAREN CHHOUR (ACT) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does she believe that jobseeker beneficiaries who fail to meet their work obligations should have their benefits reduced; if so, why were work-related benefit sanctions in the last quarter of the last year less than half what they were in 2019?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Only if it is appropriate to do so, and as a last resort. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has changed its way of working during COVID-19. Staff are more proactive with clients and offer more phone engagements, in line with the alert and traffic light settings. The member will notice the number of people sanctioned for failing to prepare for work has remained steady over this time period, and almost all the drop-off in sanctions is for failing to turn up to an appointment. This reflects the changed environment due to COVID-19, as well as increased Government investment in front-line work-focused case management. I'd also like to point out the big drop in the number of parents with dependent children who are sanctioned. This fell from 1,980 in December 2019 to 579 in December 2021. MSD are working more closely with clients to understand the reason for their non-compliance and make it easier to re-comply if they have children. Our new ways of working have been successful. Last year more people moved off a main benefit and into work than any time since electronic records were kept, a trend which is continuing in 2022. 


Sepuloni claims sanctions for failing to prepare for work are "steady" but sanctions for those failing to participate in work dropped 62.5 percent from 1,200 to 450. For context the denominator is 368,172 so the fraction is, in any case, tiny.

 But let's deal with the last part of the answer.

The number cancelling a main benefit to move into work is a somewhat meaningless figure without accompanying grants: 

Graphing the Ministry's data shows that in March 2022 there were still more grants of a Jobseeker benefit than cancellations of a main benefit to move into work. In March 2021 the reverse was true. So the situation has actually deteriorated. Additionally, more Jobseeker benefits were granted in March 2022 than either of the two prior months.

Karen Chhour: If someone on jobseeker support does not have an exemption for health reasons and refuses to fulfil a suitable job vacancy, should they be able to stay on their full benefit with no consequences?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Every person's situation on the benefit is different, and it's important that the Ministry of Social Development and the case managers recognise that. We also need to begin from the starting point of assuming that the vast majority of people who are on benefit do want to work. MSD's job is to support them into the job opportunities that are available, that are best suited to them, and work to ensure that the work they take up is sustainable and meaningful for them and good for them and their whānau.

Working is actually about 'earning a living.' A lot of work is not sustainable simply because that is the nature of jobs today. Not everyone can find a long-term secure job that fulfils them in every way. Thousands of people do work that they'd prefer not to. That's the reality of life. They do find reward though in having workmates, in supporting themselves and being occupied.

Karen Chhour: Is it fair to use hard-working Kiwis' taxes to pay for 106,000 work-ready jobseeker beneficiaries when many industries are crying out for labour, with some having to shut their doors due to understaffing?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: What is not fair is to use the politics of divide and rule by trying to pit those "hard-working" New Zealanders against people that are on benefit. Many of us in this House would have had a stint on benefit at some point in time. We're no longer on it. We didn't have the intention to stay on it. We always had aspirations to get out and work for ourselves and our whānau, and that is what the vast majority of beneficiaries also have. There's also a cohort of New Zealanders who struggle to get into work for a range of other reasons, including health conditions and disabilities, and for far too long they have been under-invested in. It's not just about expecting the person on benefit to get off benefit and go and work. It's about a Government being committed to breaking down the barriers to them being able to take up employment.

I surely won't be alone in seeing the irony in a Minister from the current government accusing a member of the opposition of using the "politics of divide and rule." Labour and the Greens are steeped in identity politics which pits the interests of one group against another. New Zealand is being increasingly divided along race, gender and age lines. And the Prime Minister's notorious response to a question about whether the vaccine passes were intended to create two different classes of people - "yip yip" - is, unfortunately for her, unforgettable.

Karen Chhour: Why, when so many businesses need staff, have the average future years on a benefit risen from 10.6 years in 2017 to 12.4 years in 2021?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: I saw some recent information that came through to my office yesterday that actually saw there's been a reasonably significant increase in the number of New Zealanders who were exiting benefit and still in employment six months later. This is what we've been focused on since day one in Government—is not just seeing getting people off benefit as the win, which the previous Government saw as a win, regardless of where they went, but actually supporting them into sustainable, meaningful employment so that they are able to continue to work for them and their whānau and, hopefully, with the right support, not return to benefit.

"...some recent information"? That's hardly a rigorous response. If the information isn't referenced, it isn't subject to scrutiny.

According to the latest MSD Annual Report, the "percentage of clients who remain off main benefit having secured sustainable work" (for 26 weeks) decreased from 70.6 in 2016/17 to 68.7 in 2020/21. 

If Labour had successfully focused on a goal of "exiting benefit and still in employment six months later" benefit numbers would be well down. They are not. They grew in every year of the government's first term and eased only slightly between 2020 and 21.

Incidentally Chhour's data comes from the same source. It is damning.

If the "vast majority" of people on a benefit want to work, have aspirations to support their whanau, why, in a job rich situation, has the expected time they will spend dependent grown by seventeen percent?

That remained unanswered.

Parliament is a difficult listen these days. Ministers do not answer questions - particularly supplementaries - and when the opposition MPs complain to the speaker their objections are brushed aside with mealy-mouthed assertions that the question has been addressed.

The only positive comment I can make is that Sepuloni isn't the worst offender.

How bad is that?



Monday, March 28, 2022

Another reason more people are welfare-dependent

In December 2017 123,039 people were on the Jobseeker benefit and 289,788 people were on any main benefit.

By December 2021 the respective numbers had risen to 187,989 and 368,172 - increases of 53 and 27 percent.

A just released MSD report which monitors the effectiveness of EA (Employment Assistance) interventions contains this graph:

The amount spent on EA interventions has steadily declined since 2016/17. Additionally, the values are not CPI adjusted.

And from the 'key results':
...the total level of expenditure in the effective and promising categories has decreased since the high point of 2013/2014 ($192.3 million). In the last four years the fall in effective expenditure was led by the reduction in spending on Training for Work and Flexi-wage (Basic/Plus)
Within the report there is further negative and positive news. This post simply highlights two broad findings.

Less is being spent on employment assistance, and what is being spent is less effective.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The difference the protest made

Many still credit the Labour government with its life-saving approach to Covid in 2020. But from the outset it was only ever another form of Me-Too. Labour was very quick to jump on board with whatever other countries were doing (even though our physical circumstances were markedly different) with a national hard lock-down, wage subsidies, printing money and border closure. The government justified it by saying that's what everybody else is doing.  It was copycat policy.

They then continued the application of orthodoxy on the domestic populace mandating vaccinations, passports and scanning. Everybody else is doing it and so will you. 

But why is that ever a sound reason to do something? 

To rub salt into the wound New Zealand continues this smug conceit that it is somehow world-leading. An innovator. Progressive and liberal.

While the private sector might have some claims, the government certainly doesn't.

Talking to a friend yesterday, his indifference to Ardern has mushroomed into a visceral loathing. His bristling is palpable. He is sick of being treated like a child, talked to as if he is an idiot. His words.

And when you think about it, living under Ardern has been like being back at school. Where most teachers preached conformity for your own good, or for the greater good, or for the sake of the school community.

Yet anyone who spent a moment reflecting knew that ultimately, you are on your own. You make your own way in the world. You love and look after friends and family, as they do you. But we are each an island. A self-contained intellectual entity.

A Chinese writer sent a letter to the Leighton Smith podcast. She described how in her country actions are only ever in service to the state, for the greater good and so, except for your parents, nobody actually cares about you as an individual.

Collectivist Ardern made this reality sickeningly clear when after imploring kindness and compassion from every one of her team of 5 million she vilified and ostracized and lied about those who gathered at parliament to ask her to end the mandates (a word the Chinese correspondent described as being very familiar to her country folk).

But the spark of human individuality cannot be suppressed indefinitely. Like the lad who mentioned the naked emperor's actual state. Or the exceedingly brave Russian broadcaster who momentarily yelled to the tv cameras that it's all propaganda.

Maybe, just maybe, the silver lining from the last two bewildering and stultifying years will be a re-emergence of individual independence - freedom of action, freedom of thought and freedom from fools.

OK. The last wish is unrealistic but at the very least, foolish ideas and their consequences might once more be debated openly without group-think silencing detractors.

A woman who liked Trump gave her reason as: "He says things I can only think."

I don't have an opinion on Trump. In the same way it irks me that people think our Prime Minister is wonderful when they don't have to live under her leadership, what do I know about America?

But I do have an opinion about the woman. No-one should feel unsafe or unable to express their thoughts. That is what New Zealand had become. That place.

Until the protest. A catalyst. A real event which forced itself into everyone's foreground and couldn't be avoided. Without bidding, a number of people just came out and said to me, I support the protestors. Which opened a floodgate of pent-up frustration and eager conversation.

Having nailed their colours, people will not unnail them. The protestors did make everyone braver. The aftermath isn't about deciding who is right and who is wrong. It's about more people saying what they think. And in doing so finding they are not as isolated as they thought they were. Or as stupid as they had been made to believe.

There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that the parliamentary protest will prove the point of no return for this government.  It exposed Ardern in a way no other event could have.

Her exposure wasn't unique though. Every party agreed to treat the protestors with utter disdain. Our oppositional parliament presented a barricade as unified as the one composed of riot shields and pepper-spraying police.

For me personally that was the big reveal. The lasting impact. For years I've resisted those hackneyed phrases, "Politicians? They're all as bad as each other." "Don't vote. It only encourages them!"

In that moment, the protest also provided a damning demonstration of the truth of these slogans.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Gap between unemployed and jobseekers is huge

 From Statistics New Zealand, note unemployed numbers at end December 2021:

From the Ministry of Social Development note Jobseeker numbers at end December 2021:

The number on Jobseeker Support (previously known as the Unemployment Benefit) is more than double the number unemployed.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is thousands of Jobseeker beneficiaries are not unemployed.

Technically speaking they do not fit the Stats NZ definition of 'unemployed' which is:

- has no paid job

- is working age

- is available for work, and

- has looked for work in the past four weeks or has a new job to start within the next four weeks.

For instance, 43 percent of Jobseekers are not available for work due to illness of some sort.

Some have part-time jobs but still require a benefit.

Nevertheless, there is now a massive gap between the number unemployed and the number on Jobseeker Support.

Let's travel back four years to December 2017 quarter, directly after Labour became government.

According to Statistics NZ the unemployed numbered 122,700:

According to the Ministry of Social Development Jobseekers numbered 123,042:

The two numbers were close.

A few people have asked me what is going on.

I can only suggest that under the current government fewer people are defined as 'unemployed' because the benefit system allows them to not be. Work obligations are looser and not enforced, and beneficiaries can earn more without their benefit being reduced. 

The constant bragging about record low unemployment is cynical. The rate is more likely a result of poor social policy than a 'booming economy'.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Maori fertility rate drops to historic low

By the end of 2021, the Maori fertility rate had dropped to 1.99

This is a fall from the first Stats NZ recorded rate of 6.28 in 1963

That's around one fewer Maori child every 14 years though the substantive drop occurred as women became able to control their fertility more effectively.


The Maori rate up until 1991 was based on ethnicity of child and degree-of-blood. So the steep drop between 1963 and 1991 also reflects the intermixing between Maori and non-Maori.

When the stats resume in 1995 they are based on ethnicity of the mother and self-identification.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

I was there again today...

 ... but left too early to experience the unnecessary mayhem that kicked off later in the afternoon.

I reported to a friend:

The focal point has moved to the corner of Molesworth and Hill streets, but some are still at the steps of parliament. There is a guy keeping up a calming narrative (I know you hate that word, but this is the proper use) as the police broadcast a trespass message. It's quite powerful. 

I think the authorities are planning to broadcast some terrible sustained screeching noise which they rehearse periodically. Earbuds have been handed out.

I moved up to the hub where lines of riot police are facing the crowd, some of whom are sitting on the tops of remaining vehicles. People are making short speeches and music is playing. National MP Mark Mitchell said on NewstalkZB this morning there are far more gang members there now. I didn't see them. There's two tidy Mongrel Mob members who have been there from early days.

I made friends with Bubba from Tauranga and gave her my number if she needs help. Her van was towed away last night, to where she hasn't a clue. She still has her tent, but police are moving in on those too starting from the Hill St side. The protestors at the front line have to watch as police drag tents, tarpaulins, chairs, blankets etc down Hill St and biff them all in a high-sided tip-truck. The police are manning all the vehicles that are towing, bulldozing etc.

When I arrived in town earlier, I ended up behind one of the very long Corrections transporters so followed it. All the way to the police station by the central library. They had blocked off the last road though and by the time I had circled the block and parked they were already offloading the final arrested protestor and taking into the station. What amazed me was not one member of the media had bothered to capture any of this. It's truly horrible.

I left around 1pm. It's been pretty quiet and I think the police will continue dirty deeds under the cloak of darkness. (How wrong I was).

Look at this 'violent nasty thug' readying to 'hold the line'. The police look like they are dressed up for roller-blading. It'd be funny if it wasn't so dreadful.

It was important for me to be there. Otherwise I wouldn't know that media descriptions like "just a pack of lowlifes " simply weren't true.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Luxon likes lefties way too much

Talking to Chris Lynch this morning on Magic Talk, National Leader Chris Luxon was singing the praises of our last Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft. There is no link available so you have to trust me. He said something to the effect that Becroft was a really great Children's Commissioner (in a discussion about the role being disestablished).

Becroft was a really great socialist. He clamored for bigger benefits and wage indexed benefits.

He supported Labour's move to stop requiring mothers to name the father of their child (after describing, as Principal Youth Court Judge earlier, how the most common factor in those that appeared before him was 'fatherlessness.)  He called for child support payments to stop being used to offset sole parent benefits, preferring the taxpayer to make up the shortfall. Because more than half of sole parents are Maori he said the current law was racist.  He backs the devolution of Oranga Tamariki services to Maori buying into the 'legacy of colonization' excuses for disproportionate Maori child abuse. 

While I cannot give you his direct word-for-word quote from this morning's interview here is what he said in his departure interview: 

The Māori staff in my office tell me that pre-colonised New Zealand was a land where children were not only valued but were also involved and included in community decision-making. 

That’s not something we do so well in New Zealand now. 

Over his tenure I watched him tow the government line more and more; the Maori world-view more and more.

Not once did I read or see him advocate for parental responsibility. He was totally into Jacinda's Robin Hood recipe for child poverty reduction.

Even if Luxon only read the well-meaning headlines he must have formed some opinion of the Commissioner's chosen ideology.

Luxon likes lefties way too much.

Monday, February 21, 2022

A sample of the anti-mandate protestors

312 responded face-to-face. Poll-wise margin of error plus or minus 4.6%

      - Most aged over 41

      - Labour was the most common vote at last election

      - Maori representation almost double their share in the population

      - Slightly more women than men

      - Largest share come from provincial NZ

      - Just over three quarters are unvaccinated

So your typical protestor is an older Maori female who voted Labour at the last election?

I saw plenty who superficially fit that bill.


Friday, February 18, 2022

First-hand reports

More testimony from those who have actually spent time at the protest site:

NewstalkZB Political Editor Barry Soper: 

The trouble is the politicians have painted them as illegal, dangerous radicals which, having talked to many of them which the politicians haven't, isn't the case for the vast majority of them. 

Lawyer and ex ACT MP Stephen Franks

I’ve been radicalised into hoping the protesters win (conspicuously by the end of mandates outside high transmission risk roles). That is by simple disgust at the bizarre RNZ and other MSM state propaganda vilifying the protesters. In my many hours there, I’ve seen nothing to support the calumny aimed at the protesters. Sure, its attracted some dingbats and potentially menacing individuals. But in my view a lower proportion than in most protests.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Protest gathering force

A high achieving sportsman, knighted no less, trumps politicians in his ability to distil and state his position:

In a post made on Facebook, Coutts confirmed his plans to join the occupiers, noting he was not against vaccination – being vaccinated himself - but he was against forcing people to get them.

"I'm heading to Wellington next week to join the protest. It's the first time I've ever felt compelled to join a protest," Coutts wrote.

"I'm not anti-vaccine (I'm vaccinated) but I'm definitely against forced vaccinations.

"I'm also strongly opposed to the ever-increasing erosion of our human rights and the growing limitations on our freedom of choice. I believe in having the freedom to be able to question so-called "expert" opinion.

"I'm against discrimination and the 'them and us' society that is being promoted by our current political leaders. I'm against creating different rights, laws and privileges based on race."

Tone-deaf government

While thousands of people, Maori in particular, are protesting at parliament over jobs and businesses lost due to the mandates, Ministers Carmel Sepuloni and Willie Jackson issue a press release titled:

Government Acts To Support More Māori Into Mahi

It's your typical 'all hui no do-ey' political statement outlining a nebulous 11-point action-plan to get more Maori into jobs. Old hands among us have seen it dozens of times before.

Did the Ministers see this ad in yesterday's DomPost?

Or the signs being carried by protestors?

Best employment policy right now? 

End the mandates.

Update: It gets worse. According to NewstalkZB's Barry Soper, the Prime Minister left the jobless protestors behind in Wellington and went to Rotorua to launch this employment scheme! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Protest Day 8: Answer me this

Has there ever before been a protest to parliament that was stonewalled by every party?

What the heck is going on?

Where is the Maori Party when so many of the protestors are their whanau?

Where is the ACT Party when so many of the protestors are pleading for our legislated freedoms?

Where are the Greens, the very party of protest?

Where is Labour with a list ranking full of so-called activists?

Any ideas?

Indistinguishable parties

From the parliamentary occupation site this morning, a row of caricatures. I guess to the protestors the parties are indistinguishable. Their response is uniform. 'We want you to go away.' By my first-hand observation and conversations with protestors, be assured. They will not.

Speakers remind protestors to be clean, peaceful, tidy, and sober. Above all, to be individuals with their own opinions and thoughts but be unified on why they are there. To end the mandates. Be as one on that message. 

Every 15 minutes a trespass notice from Trevor Mallard is broadcast and raucous drumming, whistling and singing drowns it out. Police are wandering around the crowd and engaging amiably. They are offered food and tattoos are compared. Both sides seem to be bending over backwards to put Thursday's violence behind them. It is quite a remarkable turnaround.

Update: On NewstalkZB this morning Minster Megan Woods and Labour MP Mark Mitchell were both singing the same song, bad-mouthing the protestors at length. Woods stated emphatically, "This is a violent protest". Thanks to Rick for this video, a police officer telling what he has seen in his patrols:

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Protest perspective

To be amongst the protestors is both calming and exhilarating. There's a strong sense of trust in one another which has been long denied by lockdown separations, physical distancing and masking. People are working together to overcome adversities thrown at them by nature or the state. They know here, they can talk freely. For the first time in ages they actually feel safe in a physical community beyond the internet. 

But MPs - all of them - want you believe the protestors are 'unsafe.' That the city streets are being made unsafe by their presence. Now the protest site is 'unhygienic' and 'contamination' lurks. Faeces has been spotted (so have many well-cared for dogs attached to the protestors.)

Those who long ago lost trust in government can recognise alarmist media reporting and political propaganda when they see it.  

I'd choose to sit with these people any day over a parliamentary select committee.

Tent city holding

Media reports are insufficient. Since Friday the protest has swollen enormously. I took a walk around all the streets near parliament this morning. The land surrounding the old government buildings is now covered in vehicles. The thoroughfare between the High Court and Wellington University is covered. Every conceivable space is taken. People have parked in triangles and put up awnings between their utes. Up Molesworth street roadside vehicles now extend as far as Pipitea Street. People are camping in every building vestibule including the High Court by creatively tethering to pillars and posts.

In Parliament grounds around a tenth of tent city has succumbed to the gale force gusts but most are standing. Mallard's music is blasting out but other audio speakers are competing with the likes of Chuck Berry. People are dancing despite abysmal conditions. The temperature is 12 degrees but the wind chill factor makes it much colder. I was exhaling vapour. On the lawns there are carpets and rubber tiles on top of hay to make pathways but veer off them and you could be ankle deep. The first aid tent is busy but not overwhelmed.

There is not one sign that people are drifting away or losing energy. If need be, people can take a break and retreat temporarily to vehicles, motor homes, converted horsetrailers - whatever - and dry off and get warm again. There is food and there are toilets.

Mallard has shown he is completely divorced from reality. Does he think every protestor has a lovely warm remote home like his beckoning? Many have their homes parked at parliament - including cars. There are the marginalised, the middleclass and the moderately wealthy in attendance judging by their chariots. And what was he thinking turning on the sprinklers when this heavy sustained rain was forecast anyway? 'Kindness' personified not. All his and police actions have done is strengthen the resolve of the occupiers and increased sympathy from the wider public.

At only 9:30 am there was plenty of activity to behold. And the mood is still as it was two days ago. Everybody is smiling, greeting each other and engendering a sense of goodwill. A young lady collecting rubbish also enjoying the humanity recalled to me that 'she' (gesturing toward parliament) told us not to talk to our neighbours. That's not New Zealand, she said to me.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Temporary Tent City?

Quite early this morning I went down to parliament to look for myself and get a feel for the mood.

Yesterday the police spent hours pushing back the crowd mere metres only to re-lose the ground and enflame the situation with 122 arrests achieved by picking off protestors one-by-one. This morning all that battleground has been covered with marquees and across the complex, more tents have gone up. I imagine by the weekend there will be no visible lawn left.

All of the roads immediate to parliament and alongside the National Library have parked lanes of vehicles, utes, campervans, buses, rigs and a couple of food trucks. Either they all leave in unison or nobody goes - anywhere.

And I don't think they are going anywhere any time soon. It's an occupation. And it seems totally fitting to me that the citizens occupy the land surrounding the workplace of their representatives.

The mood is pleasant, chatty, convivial BUT after yesterday there is much more preparedness for further action from the police.

I left feeling sure the police won't move today. A repeat of yesterday would be utterly futile. Worse, it would attract even more people who are first and foremost looking for trouble, which those protesting the vaccine mandates aren't. They are looking for a change of heart from government.

That would be the simplest solution to this unprecedented show of resistance which will only get stronger in the coming days. Any other 'resolution' doesn't bear thinking about.

Update: They were not in view this morning but now at least two very large banners are saying "End Mandates, We Go Home." It couldn't be clearer.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Our welfare system is not functioning well

In the clamour against Labour's proposed unemployment insurance scheme something odd has happened. The detractors are praising the existing welfare system as effective and well-functioning. I've heard business commentator Phil O'Reilly doing this and now Roger Partridge, from the NZ Initiative, in today's NZ Herald, writing:

More importantly, New Zealand's unemployment rate is consistently among the lowest in the OECD, thanks to well-functioning labour markets. And when it comes to long-term unemployment, that is, those who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, New Zealand's record is even better. Over the past two decades, the long-term unemployed made up only 11.9 per cent of total unemployment in New Zealand. This compares with 29.4 per cent for the OECD – and 44 per cent for the EU.

Respectfully I don't know what measure Roger is using but of the 187,992 jobseekers registered at December 2021, 62 percent had been continuously on the benefit for more than a year. Yesterday in parliament National MPs were making a noise about how the percentage is increasing.

Much of the proposed scheme criticism has been about how it will increase the time people spend unemployed because it is too generous. But the fact that the Jobseeker benefit has no time limits is the biggest contributor to long-term dependency.

Partridge continues:

With a well-functioning welfare system and the labour market producing comparatively good outcomes, there appear few good reasons for imposing the costs of an expensive new layer of welfare onto firms and workers.

I'd strongly disagree that our welfare system is well-functioning.

Why are 6 percent of the 18-64 year-olds receiving a jobseeker benefit when so many sectors are crying out for labour? Yesterday the Mayor of Westland District Council was on radio imploring people to go down and fill jobs. Yet there are 1,500 people on a jobseeker benefit in Greymouth and Westport.

It is too easy to get on and stay on welfare in New Zealand. Labour have enhanced that ease by reducing the use of sanctions to impose work obligations. They recently shifted thousands of jobseekers onto the sole parent benefit because they no longer had to look for a job. The policy settings changed. It is now OK to keep adding children to a benefit to avoid work. That is not a "well-functioning" welfare system.

So, while I hold no candle for Robertson's proposed unemployment insurance scheme, I'm not going to argue for the status quo either.



Sunday, February 06, 2022

Oranga Tamariki statistics under new regime

CYF became Oranga Tamariki in 2017. There has since been a push to reduce Maori children in state care (not dissimilar to the push to reduce the prison population). Currently just over two-thirds are Maori.

So here's a quick stock-take on OT stats under the new regime.  The numbers are for the year ending June.

'Reports of concern' about a child come from schools, police, neighbours etc. 

These are trending down:

A report of concern can result in a 'further assessment or investigation'. 

These increased in the most recent period:

Next, I would have expected to be able to show you 'substantiated findings of abuse or neglect' but there are none at the OT site. The latest Annual Report provides none.

So finally, the number of distinct children in a care or protection placement (which could be family/whanau, non-family or a state facility.) 

These are trending down:

A breakdown in ethnicity for each category shows every stat declining for Maori including further assessments and investigations.

A couple of matters prompted me to check the most recent data: reports from the States that harm to children has increased during lockdowns, with absence from school and confinement within families under stress.

And closer to home Child Matters releasing data about the number of deaths from neglect and abuse increasing in number.
Last year, one child died every five weeks as a result of alleged abuse in New Zealand. So far this year, one child has died almost every week.

Ten children in one year is above the norm and the rate appears to be increasing.

Child deaths represent the most extreme abuse or neglect but may provide a clue to other underlying degrees.

The trends seem to be going in two different directions. 

It's hard to draw sound conclusions but it can be said fewer children are under the state's care and protection (now officially referred to as 'loving placements') and more children are dying. Whether the two observations are related is another thing.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Underneath the official unemployment rate announced today

Unemployment is now at 3.2 percent.



Can I think of another word beginning with 'W'?


The percentage of people aged 18 to 64 claiming an unemployment benefit (Jobseeker) is 6 percent.

There's 188,000 of them.

In Northland the official unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, but 10.2 percent are on the Jobseeker benefit.

Lots of people are no longer 'unemployed' because nobody is requiring them to look for a job. OR they are content working a few hours (but not enough to affect their benefit).

The age of anxiety

 Not a worrier by nature I note with a degree of objectivity that the human brain is now constantly assaulted by messages designed to make people act out of fear. If you think I speak of covid you are wrong.

For example, a warning currently being read out during the weather forecast on NewstalkZB:

Heat Alert

Significant heat forecast for Lower Hutt on Sunday 30 January to Wednesday 2 February. Drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun, and avoid extreme physical exertion.

What earthly use is that? Our bodies tell us when it's hot and what to do - IF WE CAN. Thousands of outdoor workers cannot avoid the sun or physical exertion in it. I've been working up the back on our hill and the sweat stings when it runs in your eyes. Should I dash indoors, oscillate my folding fan and mop my brow? Truly the message is paternalistic poppycock.

But as I toil on with my radio earpiece in for company, I am subject to relentless advertising that is designed to make me feel worried and sad. 

You could face a large vet bill and be forced to put your beloved pet down! Which starts me thinking about all the beloved pets I've buried albeit at the end of their natural lives. Take action! Buy insurance.

Then ACC. If you get hurt think about who else gets hurt. Who'll bath you? Who'll walk your dog? Jesus, my dog again. 

Next up the friendly funeral directors. Can your family afford to bury you? Don't leave them with a massive bill. Pre-pay your funeral. Download our application form today. Plan it yourself. Be in control. Seriously? I want to control my own funeral? I'll be dead. What difference does it make?

An aged care facility says, we are watching your old folk as they sleep. Some days are hard, some days are sad, somedays are full of fun. But we care. And we are there. OMG. Lay it on me.

Change channels.

Are you over 50? Have you had a prostate test?? NO! Then have you had a breast scan?? NO!

Earthquake commission. You'll need 140 litres of water per person to get through in the event of a disaster. (How many water-filled coke bottles have I stored? Nowhere near enough. But we stopped buying plastic because of the plastic crisis. Aaaaggh. What am I going to store 140 litres in?)

Have you got an elderly relative who is showing signs of depression? Are they forgetting to empty the mail box and buy food? Good lord. We are all worried about our elderly parents in their 80s and 90s. I need a break ...

YOU can buy peace of mind if you get our mobile medical alert system. Peace of mind ... 

ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING???  No wonder. Sleep Drops is the answer.

Oh no. Here comes that absolutely doozy.

"Look again, look again" Waka Kotahi telling me how frightening intersections are. Like an incessant window wiper, "Look again, LOOK AGAIN." I would knock the woman on the head with my spade if she stepped out of the radio.

But back to water. Don't swim if you can't float on your back for an extended period. Swim only between the flags. Drownings are at an all-time high. Don't over-estimate your ability.

But it's so effing hot. 

Don't go near the Hutt River. Deadly toxic algae has been detected. It'll kill your dog. Ingested poisoned possum carcasses swept down the river and ending on Wellington harbour beaches will kill your dog.  Fat lot of good my pet insurance will be then.

I look at my faithful dog lying near at hand. I can't take much more. If I wasn't depressed, after listening to a day's worth of advertising I surely would be.

BUT but but there are oodles of numbers I can ring to get help. Ring help-line, 24 hour counselling, anywhere, anytime! Only $1.99 a minute. Phew. That's only ... $120 an hour!@#$%

What a dilemma. Pay for pet to live, my funeral, my peace of mind or counselling, which I am now in dire need of. Life is so stressful. My usual reason and calm have been clobbered.

As a friend recently observed, if there is just one good thing about getting older it's that we won't have to put up with this crap for much longer.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

When words say so much

 According to RNZ the PM is a covid close contact and has to isolate. The following sentence made me laugh:

In line with Ministry of Health advice she will be tested immediately tomorrow and will isolate until Tuesday, a press statement said.

Doesn't that beautifully sum up this government? Doesn't know the difference between 'immediately' and 'tomorrow'. 

Friday, January 28, 2022

A sample of the protestors

312 responded. Margin of error plus or minus 4.6%

Most aged over 41

Labour was the most common vote at last election

Maori representation almost double their share in the population. 

Slightly more women than men.

Largest share come from provincial NZ.

Just over three quarters are unvaccinated.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Bizarre new world

The term 'pod' applied to human beings first made itself known to me when I was 'inducted' (as a volunteer) into Rimutaka prison. There are two basic unit types. There are those that replicate and fan out from a central arm. These are higher security, most akin to what you expect if your prison knowledge is confined to TV watching. Two storey, interior balconies and stairways, and small high-walled exercise courtyards.

These are referred to as "the pods".

Now though the term is in wide usage to describe how events will deal with red light restrictions. For example:

"Racing Minister Grant Robertson confirmed on Sunday that sporting events could continue under the red traffic light system, with multiple separate spaces of up to 100 people in attendance. We’re working through the logistical exercise of adjusting our plans to switch to table service for food and drink, with distinct entrances, security, amenities and totes for each pod of 100 guests." 

So where did 'pod' come from? As Sports Minister, Grant Robertson uses it all the time. Freudian?

Wellington Cup Day will see the hoi polloi ensconced in their pods while 1000m away society's outcasts are locked up in theirs.

Notwithstanding the difference in their circumstances, both are heavily subject to government control.

Keep remembering it isn't whatever-latest-virus making the world a bizarre place. It is the way governments react.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

How does this claim stack up?

 Some more background on this claim from the MSD Minister today would be useful:

"People on a benefit for 1-2 years and four years or more getting into work increased by 96.9 percent and 93.2 percent respectively. Those on a benefit for 2-4 years saw the year-on-year exit into work rise by 129.8 per cent."

That level of data depth isn't publicly available.

The only data I can immediately access shows that in the Dec 2020 quarter, 26,992 people left a benefit for work. In the Dec 2021 quarter the figure increased to 27,423 - or 431 individuals. 

That's a 1.6% increase between the two quarters.

For three duration of dependency groups (1-2, 2-4 and 4+ years) to show an average increase of "getting into work" of 106.6 percent their absolute numbers must be very small.

Looked at another way, it appears the vast majority of people on benefits who left for work in the Dec 21 quarter had been on welfare for less than a year

Friday, January 14, 2022

Eradicating 'NZ' from the public service lexicon?

This is bad news in my book.

MSD has always used 'prioritised ethnicity' recording. If a client records they are Maori and other ethnicities, Maori is prioritised and the individual is counted as Maori. The same applies in the health and justice systems (unless that has changed also).

The advantage of the prioritisation method for recording is individuals are counted once.

It's going to get messy henceforth as individuals and ethnicities will sum to in excess of 100% (see chart below).

But there is another change.

New Zealanders with a European heritage have previously been categorised as 'NZ European'.

Now they will be labelled just 'European'.

I think that's a misnomer. If ethnicity is now about 'cultural affiliation' (according to MSD) is the culture of New Zealand the same as the culture of Europe?

The announcement itself refers solely to the country as 'Aotearoa' so I cannot help but get the feeling dropping NZ is more than a statistical convenience.

Here's how statistics will be affected in the future:

Total recipients in the second chart sum to 388,020 (even though there are only 343,920 individuals) and ethnicities sum to 114%.

It might be useful to have some data on Asians (though the term is broad eg includes Fijian Indians) I'm not sure how useful.

Equally I am unsure why the 'total response' reporting is an "improvement" beyond it apparently "reflects best practice".

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Gangs: We get what we pay for

In 2016 the government provided you, the public, with a valuable insight into what gangs are costing us.

When I went searching for an update on the 2014 data, there was none. And that rather highlights that this Labour government doesn’t see gangs through the same lens as the last National government.

The absurdly mis-named Ministry of Social Development described gangs thus:

“The harm inflicted by gangs is a serious issue in New Zealand. We have a complex gang problem that spans social, economic and justice issues.”

In 2014 there were 3,960 adult gang members known to police.

Last year, in 2021, it was reported:

“As of June 30, there were 8,061 gang members on the list curated by police, up from 5,343 at the end of 2017.”

Burgeoning numbers?

Some would argue the toss.

Jarrod Gilbert, sociologist and gangs expert says there is a methodological issue:

"It's incredibly easy to get on the [gang] list because the police identify someone wearing a patch and so their name goes onto this database. But if people leave the gangs - and so many people are - it's very, very hard for police on the street to identify when someone's left."

That’s the first I’ve heard that it is easy to leave a gang. Two anecdotal cases spring to mind.

A friend told me how she had to smuggle money into a prison to pay a gang boss to let her partner leave.

Another friend told how he got “stabbed up” on his doorstep when other members got wind of his impending desertion.

It is notoriously difficult to extricate from gang life. There is no ‘unsubscribe’ button.

In something of a contradiction Gilbert is also on record as saying leaving gangs could be difficult, especially because of the physical marks members carried such as facial tattoos. Although getting a tattoo wasn’t compulsory, there was a “pressure” for young people to get one.

Gangs are not ‘friendly societies.’ It is grasping at straws to draw analogies between Rotary and Black Power to justify non-application of association laws. But people do it anyway. I expect one can safely resign from Rotary though I have no evidence to back that up.

Anyway, back to 2016.

You, Dear Taxpayer, working in jobs you hate or love, but always contributing to the wellbeing of your fellow man, furnish much of the gangs’ budget.

Over an examined twenty-one year period 92 percent of gang members received a benefit at some point with the average duration of receipt at 8.9 years.

You contributed to their rent through the accommodation supplement and their food, through hardship grants. Not to forget income-related rents and repairs to Kainga Ora (whose reputation has recently spiralled into a black hole.)

You also paid their ‘partners’ single parent benefits and child tax credits. Their weekly ‘package’ sometimes amasses to more than $1,000.

Gang members do not itch to attach themselves to clever, educated, and independent wahine. Gang women are often themselves the female offspring of gang parents and learn their parenting in situ.

According to MSD, in 2014:

The alleged perpetrator of abuse or neglect of gang member’s children was more often recorded as the child’s mother than the gang member father.

So how much abuse or neglect are we talking about?

A total of 3,516 children of gang members were recorded as being the victims of abuse or neglect that had been substantiated on investigation by Child, Youth and Family. This is 60 percent of the total 5,890 known children of gang members.

Children growing up in gang families are more likely to be abused and neglected than not.

Authorities officially acknowledge:

There are in the order of 6,000 to 7,000 children known to be associated with gang members who are growing up in welfare recipient families, and are subject to high rates of abuse and neglect.

It is bad enough that the situation is allowed to continue, or even deteriorate based on the numbers.

But it is abominable that those who decry the misery visited on these children are simultaneously compelled to pay for it through the tax system.

Imagine an excel sheet recording the allocation of the taxes you paid last week. Make sure you head up a column with ‘Financial incentives for gang procreation.’

It is important to gang members to father children, and they do it more frequently than non-gang members. According to MSD 2,337 gang members had benefit spells that included 7,075 dependent children. But this is only part of the story. Many gang female partners or ex-partners would be receiving their own benefit to which children will be attached.

A portrait of Kawerau in 2010 explains this proclivity:

A gang rules the bedroom in many of the homes in New Zealand's DPB capital - Kawerau.

"We have one gang in our town, the Mongrel Mob," said a community leader who asked not to be named for fear of the Mob.

"Every Mongrel Mob man creates a line - that is the number of children they can produce. So they will have a couple of girlfriends and they might have a wife, and they will have mistresses, and they will be in on-and-off relationships," he said.

"When you are born and raised with that mentality, and we have second and third generations raised like that in this town, what that turns out is sole parents."

At that time, in a town of 7,000 there were 661 DPB recipients and 624 unemployment and sickness benefit claimants. At September 2021, since benefit name changes, only 300 parents are receiving the sole parent support benefit BUT 1,008 people are dependent on job seeker support (which will include a number of sole parents.) Not much appears to have changed in Kawerau. A vignette from early 2021:

“Kawerau Mongrel Mob leader Frank Milosevic, 52, has been sentenced to 17.5 years imprisonment after being found guilty on 16 drug and money laundering related charges. He has received a minimum non parole period of eight years and nine months.

Slobodan Milosevic, 30, was sentenced to 16 years and nine months imprisonment with a non-parole period of seven years and 10 months…

After Slobodan received his sentence, people in the public gallery began barking and jeering.

Slobodan is the father of three children, and his partner is due to have a fourth child later this year.” (my emphasis)

No doubt with an incarcerated partner (and serving an associated home detention sentence herself) the expectant mother of three will now be dependent on the generosity of the taxpayer.

As only one of thousands of gang mothers receiving benefit income in their bank accounts each pay-day, we shouldn’t be so hard on her. Afterall it’s a lifestyle government after government has condoned by financing it.

She will be able to access the Prime Minister’s Best Start payment for her new-born intended to ensure the child is well-nourished, safe and thriving. Of course, breast milk, tactile care and attention would achieve the same and come without a price tag. As Coco Chanel apparently said, “The best things in life are free.”

Unfortunately, the father is not and whether his absence in the child’s life is a curse or a blessing will always be an unknown factor. He is though the son of a gang member himself. The abiding presence of his father did not have a happy outcome.

You should now add another column to that excel sheet headed ‘Prisons’. Between them the father and son will be requiring around a quarter of a million dollars annually in upkeep and ‘rehab’. Or a cool cumulative $4m if they both serve their minimum sentences.

There’s been a great deal of bally-hooing over the deported 501s and their contribution to escalating gang and gun violence. But isn’t that a mere smokescreen? New Zealand does very well in amplifying its homegrown problem through strong welfare incentives and weak child protection services. While both are heading in the wrong direction, we are destined to keep getting what we pay for.